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Myth #1: I have to pay a lawyer a retainer up front to take my case
The reality is that most personal injury lawyers in Ontario ask for no money up front or during the course of your lawsuit. If we take your case at Santucci Personal Injury Law (“Santucci Law”), we take the financial risk because we believe in your case. And we will not charge you any legal services fees if we don’t recover any compensation for you. It is an arrangement called a “contingency fee.” This means that the lawyer only gets paid if you are paid compensation. We do this to ensure that all accident victims have access to justice, because not everyone can afford to pay legal services fees on an hourly basis and up front in a lawsuit.
Myth #2: A lawyer can tell me how much money I will receive
While a personal injury lawyer can give you a very general idea of what your case is worth, there is no way to tell what exactly you will ultimately receive at trial or through settlement negotiations. There are many factors that affect the value of your case, and the facts of every case are different. Personal injuries affect everyone in a different way. Courts therefore award individuals with the same injuries different amounts in compensation. At Santucci Law, we get to know you well, so that we can put forward a compelling case to show an insurance adjuster or Judge how YOUR injuries have detrimentally affected YOUR life.
Myth #3: I always have to go to court in order to settle my case
Most people are surprised to find out that the majority of personal injury cases will never go to trial. Did you know that only about 2% of civil suits are actually tried before the courts? At Santucci Law, we will make every effort to settle your case as soon as it is practical to do so. Trials are risky and expensive and a good personal injury lawyer will try to settle your case before a trial is necessary. A settlement can be reached at any time before the Judge and jury makes the decision. There are alternatives to going to trial, including settlement discussions and meetings or mediation. A mediator is a neutral third party (usually a former lawyer or Judge) who helps facilitate settlement between the parties. At Santucci Law, we make use of these alternative methods to try to settle your case so you don’t have to go to trial, if possible.
Myth #4: One accident, one lawsuit
One automobile accident can typically result in more than one lawsuit. There will likely be a court action against the at-fault party, one against your accident benefits insurer and potentially one against your long-term disability insurer. All three of these actions are included in the contingency arrangement at Santucci Law (see Myth #1 for a description of a contingency arrangement).
Myth #5: I have as long as I want to decide whether to sue
In Ontario, there is legislation that sets out strict time limits on how long you have to file a personal injury lawsuit. If your lawsuit is filed after this time expires, you may be barred from making a claim. For most personal injury lawsuits, the limitation period is two years from the date of the injury. However, some cases are subject to shorter time limitations (for instance when you sue a Municipality). If you bring your claim to Santucci Law after the limitation date has passed, there often isn’t much that we can do. Therefore, the best time to see us for a consultation is as soon as possible after the accident.
Myth #6: I don’t need a lawyer
After an accident, insurance adjusters may attempt to settle the case directly with you. You may think it is better to deal directly with the insurance company, but this would be a mistake. Insurance companies try to pay as little as possible to settle claims. You may actually miss out on receiving the full amount of compensation you deserve if you settle your case without consulting a lawyer.
Myth #7: I will have more than one chance to settle my case
Most people are surprised to find out that once a personal injury case is settled with the insurance company or a verdict is entered by the court, the result is final. You only get “one kick at the can” so to speak. If you settle your case in full with the insurance company, you are waiving your right to pursue further compensation. Don’t get caught, call Santucci Law to help you through the process. At Santucci Law, we will help you to understand the legal issues involved in your case, set out the compensation that you are entitled to, and advise you on a fair settlement.
Myth #8: It will be at least 5 years before I receive any compensation
In reality, many personal injury cases can be resolved much sooner than 5 years. At Santucci Law, we take every opportunity to resolve your case as swiftly as possible. Our typical time frame is approximately 2-4 years from the time we take on your case. However, I have had some cases take longer and some cases take shorter depending on the circumstances. This may be through settlement meetings directly with the insurance adjuster, or the opposing lawyer. Most personal injury cases are fairly straightforward. Complexities only begin to emerge when liability is disputed or where injuries are very serious. At Santucci Law, we try to keep the process as simple as possible for you. You will initially have to spend some time filling out some paperwork and will probably have to attend some medical examinations, and potentially an Examination for Discovery. We will handle all of your legal issues, so that you can just concentrate on recovering from your injuries.
Myth #9: I can only be compensated for physical injuries
Many injuries are quite complex, and are not always physical in nature. Just because an injury is not physical, does not mean it is not life altering and worthy of legal compensation. You can be compensated for emotional and psychological injuries. Symptoms such as: sleep difficulty, anxiety, and depression are all common ailments after an accident.
Myth #10: Most personal injury claims are frivolous
Most personal injury claims are brought by regular people who have suffered injuries from legitimate accidents. Furthermore, personal injury lawyers do not take every case that comes through their doors. As a result of the contingency fee arrangement, they will usually only take cases that they think they can win, which necessitates a genuine victim.
Don’t Be Mystified
Patricia Santucci is a personal injury lawyer born and raised in Hamilton, Ontario. She holds several degrees having attended King’s College at the University of Western Ontario, McMaster University, earned a Master of Arts degree at the University of Windsor and an Ontario Teaching Degree from Teacher’s College as well as her Ontario Teaching Certificate. After graduating from the University of Alberta law school she was called to the bar in 2000. You can find Patricia on Google+ and LinkedIn or directly through this website